Monday, January 5, 2015

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Lot #54

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The tale of this wine begins in Denver. Green Dragon and I had been out in Colorado to visit our daughter, who lives in Breckenridge, and attend a wedding.

Our daughter absolutely had to visit Trader Joe’s to do some shopping before returning to home. So we visited Trader Joe’s. It’s a great store with interesting products at low prices – but I must admit that their amazing wine shop was a main attraction for me.

The Charles Shaw, or “two-buck Chuck” had no appeal. But when I saw the platinum label Grand Reserve Cabernet from Oakville, my interest was piqued.

Oakville is where To-Kalon, one of the greatest vineyards in Napa Valley is planted. The grapes for the ultra premium Opus One are also grown here. Not only that, but the Trader Joe’s wine was 2009, one of the epic Napa vintages.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy any there because we were flying back later that day and weren’t checking any bags. I rectified this situation when we visited Trader Joe’s in Ann Arbor last week. Green Dragon and I were joined by the Cabinator and Glorious T for a visit to one of our favorite Michigan cities. The Cabinator and I split a half case, purchasing all they had on hand. At $14.99 you can’t really go wrong.

Did we score or go bust on this purchase? We were anxious to find out. That evening we uncorked the first bottle.

In the glass it is a deep ruby color. On the nose there is a demure puff of berry. The wine is fruit forward with delicious jammy flavor. The tannins are subdued. All in all, a solid Cabernet.

The wine is produced by Behind the Scene Wine of Napa Valley for Trader Joe’s. There is no digital footprint for this company. There were 2,497 cases produced and it registers 14.1% alcohol.

If there is one area where the wine falls short, in my view, it’s in the aging process. For high end Cabernets, the selection of the proper oak barrels (French or American, new vs. old, etc.) and the length of aging add nuance and complexity to a wine. Oak barrels are expensive, with most running more than $1,000.

It doesn’t approach the top tier Cabernets, as you might suspect, but it certainly drinks like a $30 or $35 Napa Valley Cab. Value wise, this is an impressive wine. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to serve this for wine loving friends.

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